With Alibaba back in focus, what are the other opportunities in China?

By Beansprout • 18 Apr 2023 • 0 min read

We share how you can look beyond China's tech giants and get a slice of the fast-growing 'little giants'.

UOBAM China PingAn ChiNext ETF

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This post was created in partnership with UOB Asset Management Limited. All views and opinions expressed in this article are Beansprout's independent and professional opinions. 

What happened?

When it comes to investing in Chinese stocks, the first name that often comes to mind is probably Alibaba.

After all, the Chinese e-commerce giant founded by Jack Ma has a market value of above US$ 250 billion and is often seen as the face of China’s technology boom. 

Alibaba has been back in focus recently, after the company announced that it will split into six business groups, each with the ability to raise external funding or be separately listed. 

The renewed spotlight on Alibaba naturally led many investors to wonder – what could be the next big success story in China, and how do we find the next Alibaba to invest in? 

Why China’s ‘little giants’ could be the next big thing

In case you have not heard, China is counting on its “little giants” to drive its economic growth. From chip producers to robotic manufacturers, these are promising new companies developing strategically important technologies.

Evidently, the US-China trade war, Ukraine crisis, and US ban on chip exports to China have highlighted the need for China to be self-sufficient and close its technology gap in key industries. 

The Chinese government has an ambitious target to develop 10,000 of such ‘little giants’ by 2025, according to an announcement by the State Council in August 20211. The authorities will support their growth by providing generous subsidies and grants, tax cuts, as well as access to talent.

China’s ‘little giants’ are also at the centre of the country’s economic shift towards consumption and adoption of clean energy. For example, there has been more intense efforts to boost consumption of green and smart home appliances. ‘Little giants’ are well positioned to innovate in this field as they are nimble in responding to changing consumption patterns. 

How do we gain exposure to China’s ‘little giants’?

Many investors wanting to get exposure to Chinese stocks will likely start with the ‘H’ share market and American Depository Receipts (ADRs) listed in the US.

‘H’ shares refer to shares of Chinese companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. This would include familiar names such as Alibaba (9988.HK) and Tencent (0700.HK).

Some of these companies may also trade in the United States as American Depository Receipts (ADRs). These ADRs have been in the limelight over the past few years due to investor concerns of potential delisting risks. 

If you’re trying to look for China’s ‘little giants’ amongst the ‘H’ shares or ADRs, good luck trying!

These markets may be known as the place to invest in China’s tech giants, but it’s not where the ‘little giants’ are commonly found.  


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Here’s a tip for you - China’s little giants can be found in its domestic stock market, also known as the Chinese ‘A’ share market.

Chinese A-shares are the shares of Chinese companies listed on two domestic stock exchanges – the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE). 

According to estimates, listed ‘little giants’ represent more than 20% of listings in the ‘A’ share market last year. This brought their total listed market value to close to RMB 5 trillion, a 36% increase compared to the previous year. 

Hence, we would need to look at the A-Shares market to find these ‘little giants’ which are potentially driving the next leg of China’s economic growth. 

For those of us in Singapore, getting access to the A-Shares market was a challenge in the past. Thankfully, we now have a few ways to gain easy access to the A-Share market. 

How the UOBAM Ping An ChiNext ETF offers exposure to China’s ‘little giants’

The UOBAM Ping An ChiNext ETF was listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) in November last year, and offers exposure to the largest and most traded stocks on the ChiNext market. 

For those who are not familiar with the ChiNext market, it is seen by many as China’s equivalent of the NASDAQ, housing China’s fast growing companies. Not surprisingly, it is also where the most number of ‘little giants’ are listed on.


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What you’ll find here would be many of the “strategic emerging” industries such as clean energy and healthcare – sectors where we’d expect the ‘little giants’ to be found. 

The top holding of the UOBAM Ping An ChiNext ETF is Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL), the largest electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer in the world with Tesla as one of its customers!

Its top 10 holdings also include healthcare stocks such as Shenzhen Mindray, which is one of the largest medical suppliers in China. Mindray saw demand for its ventilators surge during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Here’s an interesting fact – over 80% of ChiNext’s more than 1,000 companies made a profit as of August 2021 despite Covid challenges, according to a Shenzhen Stock Exchange announcement in September 2021.2

You can also diversify your portfolio by getting exposure to the ChiNext market as it has a low correlation with global indices. 


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How the United China A-Shares Innovation Fund offers exposure to China’s ‘little giants’

For those who would like a more actively managed fund to gain access to China’s little giants, we can also consider a unit trust such as the United China A-Shares Innovation Fund. 

Compared to an ETF like UOBAM Ping An ChiNext ETFa unit trust is actively managed by a professional fund manager who will use his/her expertise with the objective of achieving long term capital appreciation.

After all, some of these ‘little giants’ might be undiscovered gems that require some work in uncovering.

The fund manager doing the work here is UOB Asset Management, which has over 35 years of investment experience and S$36.5 billion of assets under management as of 31 March 2022. They are supported by the fund’s sub-manager Ping An Fund Management, UOB Asset Management’s joint venture partner based in China. Established in 2011, Ping An Fund Management is approved by the China Securities Regulatory Commission and has assets under management of over RMB 800 billion as of 30 November 2022. 

As its name suggests, the fund invests mainly in A-shares of companies listed in China. Many of these companies are seen to be strategically exposed to growth trends in the technology and consumer sectors. 

The fund invests in three key themes 1) New energy and IT innovation, 2) High-end manufacturing upgrades, and 3) consumption upgrades. 

Taking a look at its key holdings as of 28 February 2023, we noticed some interesting companies such as Longshine Technology Group, which provides software and digital services to more than government and enterprise customers. and Yunnan Energy New Material, which provides plastic films for electric vehicle lithium batteries.

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What would Beansprout do? 

We can consider different ways to gain exposure to Chinese stocks, as China’s economic re-opening is expected to be one of the key drivers for stock markets this year.

Notably, the A-share market is home to many of China’s ‘little giants’, which are expected to propel China’s next stage of growth. 

The good news is that the price-to-earnings ratio of the A-share market is still below its historical average as of February 2023. This means that we can potentially increase the likelihood of benefitting from their growth without overpaying.

If you’re looking for a fuss free way to ride on the growth of these companies, you can now do so with a single trade on the SGX through the UOBAM Ping An ChiNext ETF.

If you prefer to have a professional fund manager assist in picking the winners amongst these ‘little giants’, then you can consider the United China A-Shares Innovation Fund, which can be purchased through UOBAM’s network of distribution partners.

With these funds, you might be be able to own a slice of China’s next Alibaba in your investment portfolio.

Click here to learn more about the UOBAM Ping An ChiNext ETF.


Important Disclaimers and Disclaimers

This document is for general information only. It does not constitute an offer or solicitation to deal in units (“Units”) in the UOBAM Ping An ChiNext ETF (the “Fund”) or investment advice or recommendation and was prepared without regard to the specific objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person who may receive it.

The information contained in this document, including any data, projections and underlying assumptions, are based upon certain assumptions, management forecasts and analysis of information available and reflects prevailing conditions and the views of UOB Asset Management Ltd (“UOBAM”) as of the date of this document, all of which are subject to change at any time without notice. In preparing this document, UOBAM has relied upon and assumed, without independent verification, the accuracy and completeness of all information available from public sources or which was otherwise reviewed by UOBAM. While the information provided herein is believed to be reliable, UOBAM makes no representation or warranty whether express or implied and accepts no responsibility or liability for its completeness or accuracy. Nothing in this document shall, under any circumstances constitute a continuing representation or give rise to any implication that there has not been or there will not be any change affecting the Fund. No representation or promise as to the performance of the Fund or the return on your investment is made. Past performance of the Fund or UOBAM and any past performance or prediction, projection or forecast of the economic trends or securities market are not necessarily indicative of the future or likely performance of the Fund or UOBAM. The value of Units and the income from them, if any, may fall as well as rise, and is likely to have high volatility due to the investment policies and/or portfolio management techniques employed by the Fund. Investments in Units involve risks, including the possible loss of the principal amount invested, and are not obligations of, deposits in, or guaranteed or insured by United Overseas Bank Limited (“UOB”), UOBAM, or any of their subsidiary, associate or affiliate (“UOB Group”) or distributors of the Fund. The Fund may use or invest in financial derivative instruments and you should be aware of the risks associated with investments in financial derivative instruments which are described in the Fund's prospectus. The UOB Group may have interests in  the Units and may also perform or seek to perform brokering and other investment or securities-related services for the Fund.

Investors should note that the Fund is not like a conventional unit trust in that an investor cannot redeem his Units directly with UOBAM and can only do so through the participating dealers, either directly or through a stockbroker if his redemption amount satisfies a prescribed minimum that will be comparatively larger than that required for redemptions of units in a conventional unit trust. The list of participating dealers can be found at www.uobam.com.sg. An investor may therefore only be able to realise the value of his Units by selling the Units on the Singapore Exchange Limited (“SGX”). Investors should also note that any listing and quotation of Units on the SGX does not guarantee a liquid market for the Units.

An investment in unit trusts is subject to investment risks and foreign exchange risks, including the possible loss of the principal amount invested. Investors should read the Fund’s prospectus, which is available and may be obtained from UOBAM or any of its appointed agents or distributors, before deciding whether to subscribe for or purchase any Units. You may wish to seek advice from a financial adviser before making a commitment to invest in any Units, and in the event that you choose not to do so, you should consider carefully whether the Fund is suitable for you. 

The Fund is not in any way sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by and/or its affiliates and SGX and/or its affiliates make no warranty or representation whatsoever, expressly or impliedly, either as to the results to be obtained from the use of the ChiNext Index (the “Index”) and/or the figure at which the Index stands at any particular time on any particular day or otherwise, The Index is administered, calculated and published by SGX. SGX shall not be liable (whether in negligence or otherwise) to any person for any error in the Fund and the Index and shall not be under any obligation to advise any person of any error therein.

“SGX” is a trademark of SGX and is used by the Index under license. All intellectual property rights in the Index vest in SGX. 

Please note that, where relevant, the general disclaimers and jurisdiction specific disclaimers found on SGX’s website at http://www.sgx.com/terms-use are also incorporated into and applicable to this document/material.

1Source: The State Council of People’s Republic of China, 26 Aug 2021

2Source: Shenzhen Stock Exchange, 1 Sep 2021 

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